Indiana University hasn’t had a top-10-rounds pick since the Padres drafted outfielder Kennard Jones in the third round seven years ago. The Hoosiers haven’t had a pair of top-10-rounders since future big leaguers Mickey Morandini (fifth round, Phillies) and John Wehner (seventh round, Pirates) in 1988. And they’ve had only one first-rounder ever, shortstop James DeNeff (No. 8 overall, Angels), way back in 1966.
All of those facts could change this June. Righthander Eric Arnett could be a first-rounder for some clubs, and he, catcher Josh Phegley and lefthander Matt Bashore all figure to go in the first five rounds.
Arnett is the biggest surprise among the trio. After pitching mostly out of the bullpen and having only sporadic success in his first two seasons at Indiana, he has gotten stronger and tightened his slider. He consistently throws in the low 90s with his fastball, touching 96 and maintaining his velocity into the late innings. His mid-80s slider gives him a second strikeout pitch. He also is doing a better job of using his 6-foot-5 frame to leverage the ball down in the strike zone. Add it all up, and he has gone 8-1, 1.94 in nine starts, with a 69-19 K-BB ratio in 70 innings.
Scouting directors voted Phegley to our preseason All-America first team after he hit .438 (second in NCAA Division I to Florida State’s Buster Posey) with 15 homers as a sophomore. While Boston College’s Tony Sanchez since has passed him as the top college catching prospect for the 2009 draft, Phegley is enjoying another strong offensive season (.371/.475/.657 with 10 homers in 38 games) and should get picked in the top three rounds. His defense draws some mixed reviews, as he shows an average arm and an aptitude for blocking pitches but needs to improve his receiving.
Bashore (3-3, 4.96, 57-19 K-BB in 53 innings) started slowly this season but has come on as of late. He’s riding a streak of three consecutive quality starts and touched 95 mph in his last outing against Penn State. He’s a lefty with size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), velocity (his fastball sits at 90-91 mph) and a pair of solid breaking pitches. He’ll even show an intriguing splitter at times.
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